Owin #16 — A place to stay?

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Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo
Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo

Owin carried Elsin’s unconscious body for several blocks and then he had stop.

“Gwen, my arms are falling off. I can’t keep this up.”  Wiping away sweat from his brow, he looked up into Gwen’s face. Though the darkness hid her eyes, her frozen posture spoke of her fear. “I’m not giving up, but I just can’t carry her this way.” He accepted the slow nod of Gwen’s head as proof she was listening to him.

Shaking out his arms, he stood over Elsin’s body. His lower back and even his neck ached from the effort. Elsin weighed fairly little, but with all of her weight in front of him, it put him off-balance.

Pulling a dagger from his belt, he quickly made a hole in the bottom of his shirt and then ripped it around his body to pull off a strip.

“Where are we going?” Gwen asked softly. “Is it at least close?”

Owin shook his head. “Not close enough.” Bending down, he used the torn ends of the towel wrapped around Elsin’s broken arm to tie it to the strip of his shirt. “I need to get her on my shoulders, but I can hold her there with her right arm and I don’t want to have it bouncing around behind me. Once I get her up, I’ll need you to tie the loose end up to keep her arm supported.”

Gwen immediately set down the lamp and the bundle of things she had gathered into the old blanket. Owin took a deep breath and then squatted down. He carefully rolled Elsin onto her right side and then turned around with her left wrist still in his hand. Reaching back, he grabbed Elsin’s leg and pulled her up onto his shoulders. Gwen helped him adjust her mother’s position as Owin stood.

Wasting no time, Gwen moved around Owin, carefully raising her mother’s broken arm, and then wrapped the loose end of the cloth around Owin’s left arm.

With a nodded of his head, Gwen gathered her things as they resumed their flight through the darkened city streets.  They kept to the back alleys and were forced into longer routes to avoid the notice of guards or other people. After quite a long time, Owin finally came to a stop in front of Gina’s shop.

“The lady that owns this shop is a friend, but I’d rather not make a lot of noise trying to wake her.” He motioned Gwen closer. “Take your mother’s arm.” When Gwen moved it out of Owin’s way, he slow squatted down and set Elsin on the ground. “Keep an eye on her,” he said, as he headed back toward the door. While he did not have his normal tools, he had seen Gina’s lock enough times to know he could get it open fairly easily. With the proper tools, Owin could open just about any lock, but with only his dagger and the broken end of a comb made from carved bone, it took him quite a while to work the mechanism. At least I know Gina doesn’t have a bar she places over the door, he mused as he forced the lock open. Those almost always send me through a window.

Cracking open the door, he peered inside the dark room. Comfortable no one waited for him, he went back to the street and carefully lifted Elsin into his arms. They were tired, but the front carry made it easier to protect her arm. Going back up the steps and into the building, he heard the floor squeak under their combined weight. As tired as he was, he could not help the noise. Behind him, he heard Gwen shut the door, her footfalls across the floor light and quiet.

Without his asking, Gwen turned up the lamp, providing just a bit more light, but it was enough to keep him from tripping over the furniture. Quiet as he could, he moved Elsin to the back of the room and set her down on a rug that Gina used to cover part of the floor.

Breathing deeply, he wiped his brow again and sat back on his heels. He needed to wake Gina without scaring her. Getting to his feet, he motioned for Gwen to remain next to her mother and then went to the door in the back wall. He knocked softly. “Gina, it’s me, Owin.” He knocked again. “Gina?”

After a moment, he heard the sounds of someone descending down stairs. Raising his voice a little more, he spoke again. “Gina, it’s me, Owin. I need your help.”

After a moment more, the door he stood in front of opened. Gina’s old form stood there dressed in a robe; a loaded crossbow point at him. The heavy weapon looked out of place in her hands.

“Gina, I had nowhere else I could think to go. Elsin’s been hurt badly and now Gwen and I are wanted by Lord Darro.”

Gina narrowed her eyes for a moment, glancing once toward Gwen and then back to Owin. She bit her lip and then lowered the crossbow. “I do not appreciate you breaking into my home, Owin.” His name added after enough pause that Owin had no trouble comprehending her mood.

“Elsin’s arm’s broken and they hit her on the head. I can’t wake her.” He swallowed. “I didn’t want to bang on your door and wake the whole neighborhood.”

Gina moved across the room and knelt beside Elsin. Setting aside the crossbow, but leaving it in easy reach, she checked the unconscious woman and then sighed. “I don’t think I can do anything for her. You need a priest.”

“I can’t afford one. And it’s possible Darro’s men will have reported my breaking Gwen free of his manor house. I think at least one of his guards is dead and possibly another one.”

Gina shook her head. “Owin, what make you think to attack Darro?”

“It’s my fault, ma’am,” Gwen said, her hands twisted in her skirt. “I stole a spoon. I thought I could get away with it.”

Gina glanced to Gwen and then back to Owin. “You’re a bad influence.”

“It wasn’t him. I…I couldn’t end up like my mother…what she goes through every day.” Gwen closed her eyes as tears started to fall. “Now Grandma is dead and so might my mother be.”

Gina stood up. “Quiet, girl. I don’t need to listen to your self-pity. Grow up.”

Gina turned back to Owin and crossed the room to stand before him. “Those things you asked me to hold. You give them to me, I can arrange to have someone from the temple come by and heal Elsin.”


“But you and Gwen need to leave. I’ll say Elsin’s a niece that fell, but I don’t need to have to explain your presence.”

Owin nodded his head. “I can find us a place to stay. But you can’t let Elsin go home. There will be–”

“I’m not a fool and once I explain things to her, I hope she’ll see reason.” Gina went back and picked up the crossbow from the floor. “I have to change and go to the temple; the two of you can see yourselves out. Don’t come back for at least a week.”

Gwen stepped forward. “This is my mother’s lamp. She’ll want to know it is safe.”

“Fine, put it on the table and go.” Gina turned and then turned back to Owin. “Don’t ever break into my home again.”

Owin nodded his head. He carried hope that Gina would get over her anger soon. Their history was too long for this one event to ruin it, but he knew she would need time to get over the intrusion.

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